In a powerful demonstration of its commitment to democracy and the rule of law, the British government has reacted strongly to the 529 death sentences handed out to Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters last week. Prime Minister David Cameron has condemned what he called a ‘politicized show trial’ and a ‘travesty of justice’ based on ‘fabricated and mostly non-existent evidence’.
Cameron also criticized the mass imprisonment of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters and called on Egypt’s interim government to launch an investigation into the killing of more than a thousand Brotherhood activists by Egyptian security forces last summer.
He condemned the forthcoming trial of former president Mohammed Morsi on charges of treason as ‘ludicrous and meaningless’, and called for an immediate halt to the ongoing persecution of an organization that, whatever its failings in government, constituted a legitimate presence in the Egyptian political arena whose ‘spurious’ banning by the interim government as a ‘terrorist organization’ was an ‘entirely political act’ that ‘lacked any justification.’
Oh wait I’m sorry, it appears that I read that wrong. None of the above actually happened. In fact Cameron has ordered an official investigation into the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK, in order to ‘get a better understanding of the Muslim Brotherhood and its values – and look into its alleged links to extremism’, according to a Downing Street source. According to the Guardian ‘the prime minister faces pressure to follow the example of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which claim that the Muslim Brotherhood uses London as a crucial centre for its activities, to ban the group.’
Well obviously if Egypt and Saudi Arabia say that the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist organization that uses London as a ‘crucial centre’ for its terror activities, then it must be true, mustn’t it? Because what possible interest could any of these two countries have in saying so if it wasn’t. Fortunately, being the UK, this forthcoming inquiry will not be subjected to pressure or bias. That’s why the government has entrusted diplomat Sir John Jenkins to draw up a report on the Muslim Brotherhood’s ‘philosophy and values and alleged connections with extremism and violence’.
The fact that Jenkins is also ambassador to Saudi Arabia should be enough to ensure the investigation’s objectivity. But in case there is any doubt, a ‘key role’ in the investigation will be played by the head of MI6 Sir John Sawers, who served as UK ambassador to Egypt between 2001-03 and once had ‘ strong contacts with the regime of the former president Hosni Mubarak.’
An excellent choice then. And Sawers was head of the Joint Intelligence Committee during the run-up to the Iraq War, and helped draw up the ‘dodgy dossier’ with Alistair Campbell. And we also have it on good authority from Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, that the Muslim Brotherhood as ‘at heart a terrorist organization’.
That’s the same ‘C’ who features in the ‘Downing Street memo’ reporting from Washington in 2002 that ‘Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and the facts are being fixed around the policy. ‘
So the fact that this dubious crew is going to ‘investigate’ the Muslim Brotherhood and possibly ban it in the UK, because Egypt and the Saudis have demanded it, would be laughable, were it not simply pathetic. This initiative may have been related to Obama’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia, where ‘counterterrorism efforts to combat extremism, and supporting negotiations to achieve Middle East peace,’ since the UK will always do what the United States demands.
But then, the UK will always do what the Saudi Arabian government demands also. And if that means banning an organization that is seen as a threat to Saudi religious hegemony, then so be it. And if it means consolidating the power of the Egyptian military then that is an added bonus, which might also help marginalize and crush Hamas in Gaza and thereby further the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian ‘peace talks.’
Whatever the motives behind it, the ‘investigation’ is likely to be as much a politicized travesty as the recent trials in Minya, and it demonstrates yet again the extent to which terms like ‘extremism’ and ‘terrorism’ have become meaningless pejorative labels of convenience in 21st century politics. Because the Muslim Brotherhood is a huge organization that does lots of things, and the fact that some of its members may have carried out acts of ‘terrorism’ does not warrant a ban, whose real purpose is its political suppression.
Egypt and Saudi Arabia have their own reason for doing this. For the British government to go down the same route is craven, dishonest and just plain stupid.